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"It's Thomas the red-nosed engine!"
— Sir Robert Norramby

Santa's Little Engine is the eighteenth (twenty-sixth in Australia) episode of the seventeenth season.


It is Christmas time on the Island of Sodor. Thomas is bringing visitors to Ulfstead Castle where they are greeted by a very happy Sir Robert Norramby who is looking forward to the Ulfstead Christmas Fair. Then, the Fat Controller arrives in Winston. The Earl asks the Fat Controller if he will play Santa Claus at the fair. The Fat Controller, having played Santa Claus before, is delighted to agree. The Earl then surprises the Fat Controller by saying that he is planning to get him a real sleigh to ride in. The Fat Controller is most apprehensive; he has never driven a sleigh before and asks if he can just arrive in Winston. The Earl dismisses this idea and assures the Fat Controller that there is nothing to worry about.

Despite the Earl's opinion on the matter, the Fat Controller takes Winston to the Sodor Steamworks to have him transformed into a sleigh anyway. With red metal panels stuck to his sides, Winston and the Fat Controller travel back to the castle. Winston feels very silly indeed.

Outside the castle, Winston meets up with Thomas, Annie and Clarabel who all think Winston looks very funny indeed. The Fat Controller fetches the Earl to show him his new "sleigh." The Earl just laughs when he sees Winston and says that his mind is made up on the matter. Winston is very relieved, but the Fat Controller is most worried.

On the last day of the fair, Thomas is sent to the docks to collect Santa's sleigh. Cranky lowers the sleigh onto Thomas' flatbed and warns him that there's a freeze coming. Thomas promises to be careful. As he makes his way up the slope towards the castle, Thomas wheels begin to slip on the icy rails. Eventually, Thomas gains a grip and manages to climb up to the castle.

Sir Robert Norramby is waiting for Thomas and the sleigh to arrive. The workmen unload the sleigh and place it beside the rails. It's nearly time for Santa Claus to meet the children. Suddenly, the Fat Controller, dressed as Santa, arrives on board Millie. The Earl shows the Fat Controller the sleigh. The Fat Controller is not impressed and suggests that it might be safer if he merely walks in to greet the children. The Earl rejects this suggestion and helps the Fat Controller into his sleigh. The Earl then instructs Thomas to back out of the way. Thomas does this, but the workmen have left part of the sleigh across Thomas' tracks. The workmen shout out and Thomas tries to stop, but his wheels just slip on the icy rails. Thomas hits the sleigh and causes it to slide off down the slippery slope with the Fat Controller inside. To everyone's horror, the Fat Controller slides right down to the railway tracks on the slope and starts to slide down the line in the sleigh. Thomas chases after the out-of-control Santa Claus and the sleigh switches onto another overgrown line with Thomas still in hot pursuit.

Back up at the castle, Stephen comes out of the castle grounds to tell the Earl that the children are still eagerly awaiting Santa Claus. The Earl explains that the Fat Controller has slid down the slope in the sleigh. Suddenly, they hear a familiar whistle; it is Thomas pulling the sleigh with the Fat Controller inside. Thomas has caught some branches on his funnel while racing down the overgrown line. They make him look like a reindeer.

Thomas and the Fat Controller soon pull up outside the castle where the Fat Controller is not very happy with the Earl for making him drive a sleigh. The Earl of Sodor jokes that it was lucky that Thomas was on hand to be the Fat Controller's reindeer. He then has an idea and pulls a large red nose out of his pocket and sticks it on Thomas' nose. Everyone laughs at "Thomas the red-nosed reindeer". As Thomas slowly makes his way inside the castle with Santa Claus, the Fat Controller remarks that the real Santa Claus would be proud of them. The children cheer as Thomas and Santa Claus arrive inside the castle and the Fat Controller wishes them all a very Merry Christmas as it begins to snow.






  • Martin Sherman as Thomas
  • Teresa Gallagher as Annie and Clarabel
  • Bob Golding as Stephen
  • Mike Grady as Sir Robert Norramby
  • Kerry Shale as Sir Topham Hatt and a Workman
  • Matt Wilkinson as Winston
  • Glenn Wrage as Cranky



  • The title of this episode is based on 'Santa's Little Helper', the dog from the American long running cartoon The Simpsons.
  • Going by production order, this is the twenty-sixth episode of the seventeenth season.
  • This is the second time in which an engine was called a "red-nosed engine" as well as the second to reference "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the first time being James in the third season episode, Buzz, Buzz.


  • At several points, the shading effect on Thomas' whistle is not rendered properly, so it appears white.
  • When Thomas is reversing to get out of the way, he is still coupled up to the flatbed that was carrying the sleigh, but when he goes after the Fat Controller, he is no longer coupled to it.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
German Thomas mit der roten Nase Thomas with the Red Nose
Japanese まっかなおはなのトーマス Thomas of the Red Nose
Norwegian Nissens lille lokomotiv Santa's Little Engine
Polish Parowóz Świętego Mikołaja Steam Engine of St. Nicholas
Spanish La Pequeña Locomotora de Santa / La Locomotora de Papá Noel Santa's Little Engine / The Engine of Santa Claus
French Le traîneau du gros contrôleur The Fat Controller's Sleigh
Russian Маленький паровозик Санты Santa's Little Engine
Ukrainian Черовононосий паровзик Санти Santa's Little Engine
Hungarian A milkulás kis mozdonya A Small Locomotive Santa Claus
Romanian Locomotiva lui Moș Crăciun Santa's Locomotive
Czech Santova malá lokomotiva Santa's Little Locomotive
Thai รถน้อยของซานต้า Santa's Little Car
Portuguese Thomas a locomotiva do Papai Noél Thomas the Santa Engine
Korean 루돌프 토마스 Rudolph Thomas
Greek Το μικρό τρενάκι του Άη-Βασίλη The Small Train for Santa Claus

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DVD Boxsets


  • Santa's Little Engine